Posted Date: 04/21/2021
Board Approves Challenge Against State to Reallocate Public Funds to Charter Schools
Joining other area school districts across the state, the Union Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to challenge the Oklahoma State Board of Education over a controversial lawsuit settlement that could reallocate tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to charter schools — at the cost of traditional public schools.
Union joins a growing list of area school districts that are disputing the litigation, which would allow charter schools to receive an equal share of the revenue from the state’s gross production, motor vehicle and rural electrification association tax collections, state school land earnings and county tax collections.
Last month, the state school board – over the objections of Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and against the advice of its own legal counsel – approved the reallocation.
“What the State Board of Education did on March 25 was certainly unconstitutional and outside their purview,” said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler (pictured left). “Oklahoma’s education funding formula is sound — it may not be perfect, but there are many states that would love to emulate our state’s school funding formula. Unfortunately for the children in our state, our formula has been highly under-funded.
“If the State Department of Education’s decision goes into effect, it would take money away from common education. Charter schools would then be similarly funded the way that we are, and not all 66 of the state’s charter schools operate in the same manner or have the same expenditures that Union or other public schools have. That, in addition to believing this action was unconstitutional, is why I respectfully ask the Board to consider authorizing us to enter this lawsuit.
“If uncontested, the State School Board’s decision will cause our district to lose not only general fund dollars, but we will lose building fund dollars and county mills that we have historically received. This change fundamentally changes the school funding formula, which will have a dramatic effect on traditional brick-and-mortar schools in Oklahoma. That’s why I ask the Board to consider authorizing this resolution.”
Joey Reyes Sworn in As Zone 1 Board Member; Board Reorganizes
Joey Reyes, who was elected to office to represent Zone 1 earlier this month, was officially sworn in Monday, April 19.
Reyes, president of the Peters Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association, has also been involved with the Union Baseball Booster Club. Reyes is the co-founder of the non-profit organization, James Mission and a Farmers Insurance Agency owner. A foster parent since 2013, Reyes has had three children graduate from Union High School. Two other children are enrolled now at Union High School and Peters Elementary School.
“Congratulations to Mr. Reyes on his successful campaign, and to his lovely bride, Lyndsey Reyes,” said Dr. Hartzler. “These positions are very much a family affair.”
The Board also underwent its annual reorganization of offices. Stacey Roemerman was elected president; Ken Kinnear as vice president; Heather McAdams as clerk; and Chris McNeil as deputy clerk.
Pictured are members of the Union Public Schools Board of Education, from left to right, Board Clerk Heather McAdams, Superintendent Dr. Hartzler, Board President Stacey Roemerman, Deputy Clerk Chris McNeil, Board Member Joey Reyes, and Vice President Ken Kinnear.
Board Approves Nearly $9.7 million In Bids for Construction Work at the High School
Board members approved amended bids for construction at the High School for $9,668,986 for work at the stadium construction site, including construction of a Fine Arts Band Building.
The cost includes major items of work, such as ornamental railing and stadium fencing, perimeter fencing for the stadium, ornamental fencing at specific locations around the stadium, and two low-voltage systems: access control and the security alarm system. Other major items included within the amendment include completion of the student parking lot and landscape immediately west of the stadium and new athletic turf for the football field.
The work is part of a $128.6 million bond issue for a five-year project first approved by voters in 2018. For more information, visit https://www.unionps.org/300565_2.
In another project at the High School, the Board accepted a bid for $938,026 for re-roofing work. Oklahoma Roofing was awarded the contract.
Board members also accepted a bid by BridgePoint Electric for $298,800 for electrical upgrades. The purpose of this project will be to upgrade the main electrical switch at the west side of the High School. This electrical service is the original 2000-amp service and has never been upgraded. The planned upgrade will provide for modern switch technology and possibly prevent an unplanned power outage, according to Fred Isaacs, director of Construction Services.
And in yet another related project, Board members awarded the purchase and installation of the video display board, two fixed LED scoreboards, two play clocks, and four game clocks and ancillary equipment for the stadium from Watchfire Signs for $788,088 from the bond fund.
Associate Superintendent Charlie Bushyhead (pictured left) said the video board at the stadium is due to be replaced by the 2022 football season. The new video display board will be 55 feet wide by 31 feet high, which is approximately 11 feet wider than the existing video board. There will be two scoreboards, one on each endzone. The scoreboards will operate independently from the video board and can be used for youth and junior varsity games without the video board.
In the meantime, Union plans to rent an 18’ x 10’ digital display from Watchfire for $10,000 that will be used for all 2021 football games.
In other action, the Board:
Merit Finalists, Commended Scholars Recognized
Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler, members of the Board of Education and several administrators recognized National Merit Finalists and Commended Scholars today at the Grand Hall at Union High School.
Hartzler congratulated the students for their academic achievements and led a discussion with them, soliciting comments from the students about their experiences while at Union, from the culture to academic classes both in-person and virtual. He also asked them to talk about areas of improvement. Administrators took note of their comments to help them make improvements in the way Union advertises curriculum, programs and other offerings.
Board President Stacey Roemerman interjected how impressed she was with the number of high-level Advanced Placement classes many of the students were taking and seeking out, both in-person and virtually. In fact, many in the audience were impressed.
Normally, these scholars and their parents would be recognized during a Board of Education meeting. However, because of the pandemic, seniors were recognized in a social-distanced event at the High School.
Students recognized include Courtney Bloom, John Brown, Kaitlyn Darrow, Hannah Fuller, Cadence Garcia, Madeline Loyd, Abigail Ren, Daniel Sibley, Shrea Tyagi, Connor Wallace, Jackson Williams, Joseph Ye, Ethan Sen and Kendra VonHartitzsch.